Good Morning ladies and Gentlemen of the Press
I am most grateful, for honoring the invitation to attend this press meeting despite the short notice. Indeed your presence here is a giant testimony of the fact that the media in Ghana is very much alive and conscious of its role as the fourth estate of the realm.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, we have invited you here today to express our utmost dismay, displeasure and disappointment at the seemingly unconcerned attitude of the John Mahama led National Democratic Congress (N.D.C) government in addressing key issues affecting the multitude of young men and women in this country as we mark World Youth Day on this day (i.e Tuesday August 12, 2014).
The youth of this country have had it to the brim and simply cannot take it anymore. The astronomical levels of economic hardship for many young people coupled with the ever rising cost of living in this country makes us wonder if indeed government is committed in any way to advancing the welfare of the youth of Ghana.
The blatant misappropriation of public funds coupled with the litany of scandals that continue to hit this government second after second, minute after minute and day by day have weakened our confidence in Government’s commitment to advancing the common good of all Ghanaians particularly that of the country’s teaming youth.
Our confidence is further weakened by President Mahama’s desperate attempt to restore the credibility of his government by heading to the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) to bail himself out of the mess he has superintended over as president. Under President Mahama, we have become leaderless as a country. Indeed Boys ne Girls abr3 under President Mahama.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in the last 6 years this country has witnessed worse levels of youth unemployment with nothing consistently being done to help ameliorate the situation. Walking down the streets of our cities and towns, it’s quite evident that Government has lost track and abandoned its promise of creating job opportunities for young men and women in this country.
Many able bodied young men and women present here have despite your persistent efforts remained unemployed and underemployed. Graduates from both the formal and informal training institutions are increasingly becoming destitute day in day out with virtually no sign of hope under this government. At present, the National Youth Employment Program (N.Y.E.P) which gave the Ghanaian youth a glimmer of hope after its introduction in 2006 by the Kufour led N.P.P government is in complete tatters.
My heart bleeds for the youth of this country, whose worsening condition is expected to get worse in the wake of imminent job cuts as condition for a bailout. Colleagues, I am of the opinion that the bailout we need as a country now is to bail President Mahama out of the Flagstaff House come 2016. I Have no doubt that the youth of this country who have been let down by this insensitive government will lead this charge.
NON FULFILLMENT OF STATUTORY PAYMENTS TO THE EDUCATIONAL SECTOR
Ladies and Gentlemen, without mincing words, our nation’s educational system risk a total collapse should government keep to its current lackadaisical posture on honoring statutory payments to various institutions within the educational sector. It is very sad to reveal that contrary to the postulations of the NDC government on enhancing quality Education in our basic schools, capitation grant for basic schools remain a problem.
Consequently, essential teaching and learning materials like common chalk, textbooks, teachers’ notebook, classroom registers, Continues Assessment (CA) and several others are lacking in our schools.
Engulfed in this pathetic situation we can only imagine the effectiveness of teaching and learning in our nation’s public basic schools. Ladies and gentlemen, our hearts bleed for the future of this country.
Additionally, we wish to express our dissatisfaction at government’s halfhearted attitude towards the School Feeding Programme. It is increasingly becoming obvious that the programme which at inception was a novelty risk total collapse since government is showing little commitment to settling its huge indebtedness to the caterers employed under the scheme. As a result, a number of these caterers have stopped providing meals to pupils in their designated schools. The situation, ladies and gentlemen is even worse in our second cycle institutions.
Till date the N.D.C. government, has paid subvention for only the first term of the 2013-2014 academic year, a situation which has left creditors breathing down the neck of school authorities in our second cycle institutions. We are therefore not surprised at the threats of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS) not to reopen in September if all outstanding subventions are not paid.
The case is no different in our schools of Special Need (ie School for the blind, School for the deaf) Indeed the mercilessness of the John Mahama led government knows no bounds. It is instructive to note, that amidst all these unpardonable failure, President Mahama still goes round the country making unrealistic promises. We are till date yet to see a five (5) inches cement block laid for the first of the 200 senior high schools as promised ahead of elections 2012. We are tired of the empty promises Mr. President.
Again, we find intriguing that despite the GETFUND component on VAT, the fund is in arrears to the tune of more than 600 Million Ghana Cedis, a situation that we deem as pathetic, ill-starred and ill-fated. As a result of this irresponsible action on the part of the N.D.C. government, many students on GETFUND scholarship outside the country have abandoned their studies and in their attempt to survive resorted to begging and in some cases the sale of personal belongings. We wish to use this day to remind President Mahama and his N.D.C. government of the recent ruling in the Nyamah vrs the Republic in which the court ordered the state to pay all outstanding arrears to the fund. President Mahama, you cannot pick and choose which court order you wish to comply with.
WITHDRAWAL OF ALLOWANCES FOR TEACHER AND NURSE TRAINEES
We are highly disheartened by the brutish treatment Government is meting out to Health worker trainees in Ghana by not paying their allowances for close to 3 years.
We further find it extremely inhumane and coldhearted to learn of Government’s decision to abolish the meagre allowances paid to both teacher and nurse trainees. Evidently, these allowances although not sufficient go a long way to motivate trainees, help them to pay their fees and enable them to do research in their respective fields of study. Scrapping these allowances as announced by government will compound the hardship that these students already face and most likely lead to poor education outcomes in these fields. We therefore call for an unconditional reversal of government’s decision regarding the abolishment of trainee allowances.
STRIKES IN THE EDUCATIONAL SECTOR
We further bemoan Government’s unwillingness and persistent lack of seriousness towards addressing the needs of associations such as POTAG and UTAG. The blatant disregard and lack of cooperation by Government in settling the needs of these bodies is obviously having a huge toll on tertiary education in Ghana. It remains obvious that if government does not wake up to its responsibility, our Universities just like our Polytechnics would be closed down. We are hereby urging government to seek an amicable end to the POTAG and UTAG strikes rather than maintaining a dismissive posture as has always been case since 2009.
OUR DEMANDS AS WE MARK WORLD YOUTH DAY
In view of the above, we demand of the N.D.C. government the following within the shortest possible time or incur the wrath of the youth of Ghana;
i. Prepare and present to the entire Ghanaian population a comprehensive approach/framework in addressing the high youth unemployment situation in Ghana as opposed to the empty rhetoric on the matter.
ii. Fulfill all statutory payments to the educational sector (Capitation grant, School Feeding Program, CHASS, Special Schools and GETFUND)
iii. Pay in full all outstanding arrears due Nurse trainees and restore the decision to continuously pay Teacher and Nurse trainee allowances
iv. Settle all outstanding issues with POTAG and UTAG including the payment of book and research allowances due.
Finally, to the youth of Ghana who have endured the pain and hardship brought about by the slow motion and limping government of the N.D.C, I still believe there is hope.
I still believe the future is bright. I believe we can collectively rise together as youth, but I also believe our dreams, hopes and aspirations cannot be realized under this government.
Ladies and gentlemen, we accused late President Mills of being slow, but from hindsight we have come to the realization that Mills’ Slow Motion is far better than President Mahama’s No Motion.
God bless our homeland Ghana.
(National Youth Organizer)